Resilience to bounce back aids Kangaroo Island rebuild

Kangaroo Island rebuild underway

Sheepmeat
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Bushfire burned 100 per cent of David Busch's property on Kangaroo Island, SA, in late December last year but he's on track to rebuild.

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David Busch on his Duncan property on Kangaroo Island, SA, that was entirely burned during the late December fires last year.

David Busch on his Duncan property on Kangaroo Island, SA, that was entirely burned during the late December fires last year.

Bushfire burned 100 per cent of David Busch's property on Kangaroo Island, SA, in late December last year and his sheep deaths were in the thousands.

But a resilience to bounce back and an ability to adapt to the situation has meant the operation is on its way to recovery.

Mr Busch wasn't home the night the bushfire ravaged his property, but he returned the next day to a devastating sight.

His home was burned to the ground, shearing shed lost, and even the rainwater tanks were completely gone.

He said the hardest thing to look at though was the burned faces and feet of the thousands of sheep that he believed would have been traumatised by the event.

Afterwards, a few local vets came out to the property at Duncan and helped Mr Busch assess his stock.

Of the injured, 100 were saved but the total death tally came to 3400.

With the help of locals and others from the community, they spent the next few days carting away the dead sheep.

"The day we got the last of the dead sheep off the property was the biggest relief," he said.

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As far as fencing went, any fence that was behind scrub or vegetation lines was completely burned but some that were out in the open were salvageable.

"And we're hoping we might get a year or two out of them which has turned out to be a blessing because it's meant that the re-fencing program can be done over three years rather than doing the whole lot in a year," he said.

He was relieved to say that three to four weeks ago they had got on top of their fencing, and had fenced up the majority of the farm, to the point that sheep could now be properly run on the different paddocks.

"Even though we haven't completely finished it, we could stop and take a breath because a lot of the hard work was done," he said.

There were 1200 of his sheep that survived the bushfires and Mr Busch's quick thinking meant they were able to take advantage of an opportunity to get some numbers up.

"Within the first few weeks after the fires, we managed to source a line of 1300 maiden ewes from a dispersal sale in WA," he said.

"I could see that the biggest issue we had going forward was the amount of sheep that had been lost on Kangaroo Island and if the drought broke in the eastern states [of the mainland], everyone was going to be looking for sheep all at once.

"We had to do something because of our number of sheep lost and this was one way to start rebuilding our flock."

Sheep grazing on David Busch's Kangaroo Island, SA, property after last year's devastating bushfires.

Sheep grazing on David Busch's Kangaroo Island, SA, property after last year's devastating bushfires.

He said they would continue to restock over the next couple of years but he was pleased to have at least half his usual stocking rate on the farm now.

He usually buys grain in to feed his sheep but given he was understocked, he had the capacity to grow his own grain.

"This will help utilise the farm and it's one less expense for us," he said.

Mr Busch admitted the experience had been tough but he was determined to keep moving forward.

"I still don't know all the people that came and helped, but I can't thank them enough," he said.

"Our neighbours and friends have been fantastic."

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